Seeking thrills or denying the inevitable, many dawdle on tax returns

 (NewsWorks file photo)

(NewsWorks file photo)

The only certainties of life, observed Ben Franklin, are death and taxes.

But ever since Franklin walked the streets of Philadelphia, and presumably well before, we have put off paying up.

Intuit — the maker of TurboTax among other products — says thrill seeking, laziness, filing for extensions or not expecting refunds are among the chief reasons people file at the very last moment.

Petros Levounis, chairman of the psychiatry department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, agreed that some procrastinators are those thrill seekers.

He recalls watching a long, last-minute line at his local post office where the atmosphere was actually festive.

“It was quite a party atmosphere out there. There were vendors selling hot dogs and it was kind of a grand old time, primarily catering to these thrill seekers,” he said.

However, Levounis noted, a second, larger group of procrastinators is avoiding something.

“These are people who simply live in denial, and they push things away or the negative things in life — out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “And I would think the second group is significantly larger than the first one.”

Procrastinators like those, Levounis explained, put off more than filing their 1040s, and that may lead to trouble for their finances, relationships, family, and careers.  Extensions only make things worse, he said, because they allow people to feel the inevitable isn’t really the inevitable.

While procrastination is pervasive even in children, people who want to change can respond to positive rewards, Levounis said.  For instance, discovering that a larger-than-expected refund is coming their way can motivate taxpayers to e-file or run to the post office sooner.

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